‘‘Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates, and men decay.” Oliver Goldsmith, the great Irish poet, wrote these lines in ‘The Deserted Village,’ 250 years ago.
Little did I know when I was reading it over five decades ago it would have any relevance to my country. Goldsmith was expressing his passionate grief about the depopulation of his native city of Auburn in England, where at the time people were amassing great wealth to the detriment of the development of the youths and community and he predicted an unhappy fate in the very near future.
I am in the same mood Goldsmith was when he wrote his poem 250 years ago but, unfortunately, I am neither as creative nor as eloquent in putting my feelings into words. I am asking; “Where have all the young men gone?” Our intelligent, able-bodied men and women are deserting this nation in droves.
Their exit is aided and abetted by the same countries, who just a few years ago, derided the quality of our education by shutting their doors against this same group. Name it, UK, Australia, USA and Canada have relaxed their stringent immigration laws to capture our graduates, skilled professionals and anyone who could be useful to them. Isn’t that telling us a story?
Nigerians often gloat about how Nigerians are doing great things abroad when they actually should be weeping! Which developed countries in the world are boasting about their most prized assets who are making waves in a foreign land? None that I can think about! So why?
Technology is the reason, they are taking our level headed young men (who would have become our despised Yahoo boys, if they didn’t have their heads well screwed on their necks) to their countries.
The Fourth Revolution is here and they are already executing their strategic plans while we are beating our chests, spending billions of Naira on RUGA and buying weapons and assault helicopters to fight – not our neighbours – but our own people with equally warped minds. Thus, we are doomed to continue to play the role of an uncoordinated consumer nation – importing everything you can think of and exporting everything that should add value to our life! Do we need a soothsayer to predict the future? Unfortunately, that future is already here!
The first step out of our sorry state as a consumer nation is to provide the energy that will drive technological development. In normal parlance that is electricity. If the truth must be told, we are spending more than ten times the amount quoted, on the pages of the newspapers, often with glee! Yes, just pause for a minute and think! Every household, every business establishment, every hospital, private or state, generates its own electricity.
Sadly, everything from the generating sets to the fuel needed to fire them is imported! Must we continue to do it the same old way? If we can’t succeed in doing it the way we planned 50 years ago, common sense dictates that we approach it from another angle. We need creative thinking! In my school days, I was taught that if a big problem defied a solution, we should break it down into smaller bits. Smaller challenges are easy to tackle. Nigerian leaders, think! Think of the nation and less of individuals and groups!
While we are spending billions of Naira on RUGA, the developed countries are funding projects to put lab-grown meat and plant-based food on our tables. They will be richer in quality, cheaper and make nonsense of our cattle and goats and we won’t even know the difference! Think! Nigerian leaders, think!
A few years ago, I thought we were doomed as a nation but the fourth revolution has opened a window of opportunity for us to bridge the gap. If we fail to take advantage of it, then we are forever doomed! And we don’t have a lifetime to move forward in this direction – five years at the most! And that hope is built around innovations.
I had a glimmer of hope yesterday when I read about Soft Talk, the messaging app owned by a Japan-based Nigerian developer. Very soon, the Centre for Innovations in Eye Care of the Eleta Eye Institute, Ibadan working with Nigerian based developers will release its first app that will contribute to the treatment of eye diseases.
The days of turf protection are over. Let break the barriers and work together with the fourth revolution to find solutions to our seemingly intractable problems. Remember, time is not our friend. If we can’t pull our weight within five years, we shall stay down until the 5th Revolution in 100 years’. Luckily, nearly all of us alive today would have been long gone to hear our children and grandchildren curse us for lack of commitment, selfishness and greed.